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Exploratory study of marriage termination in tribal societies : using a role-analysis approach. Ornstein, Toby Elaine

Abstract

Two problems are considered in this thesis. There is an attempt to explore the nature of marriage termination cross-culturally while at the same time investigate the value of basing comparative studies on analyses of systems of roles. Thus the investigation of the two problems is interdependent. Since "marriage" is defined as establishing a series of relationships particularly for the husband and wife, "marriage termination" is seen as creating at least a change in these relationships. The focus of the study then is the point at which the marriage ceases. Six categories of the major redefinitions of roles that must occur at this point were established. The fund of ethnographic data used in this study comes from sixteen tribal societies which were selected from sixty works for their containing information in at least three of the six categories. The relevant data was coded and phrased in terms of the various problems that the husband and wife confront at the termination of their marriage. The solutions to these problems were also coded and presented as the choices made by the couples in each society. A total of sixteen problems and 243 variables were coded. It was hoped that when the variables were tabulated that some connections between the variables could be found, giving rise to principles of marriage termination which, with more research, might produce hypotheses. In fact no relationships between the variables could be drawn. This is seen as primarily due to too small a sample and a lack of crucial data, making accurate comparisons impossible. However this study does delineate the problems in a comparative study of marriage termination and demonstrates the kind of cross-cultural tableau made possible by a role-analysis which, on logical grounds, should facilitate anthropological generalizations.

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